Between getting her left hand chopped off and being held captive, it never occurred to Dani Botswana that Ulagi may have moved on from the dark moon by Balthazar where Don Lino had buried Fabiliacci’s black box. Dani had never been one to bother with the details, her game was confidence and adaptability to all situations. She took things one at a time, neither scheming nor planning any possible escape. She had lied to Don Lino about Ulagi’s having the black box and it was perhaps this lie that kept her alive. Sitting on a train to Balthazar, she did not fear nor apprehend arriving on the dark moon with an army of Don Lino’s goons only to have her lie exposed. Dani did not think about the consequences, she thought only of recuperating and getting used to life with a single hand.
The train carrying Dani, Don Lino’s company and Lash alighted at Baltazar’s ring station. From there, the company dragged Dani to a shuttle en route for the dark moon. Lash followed behind on skyhorse, keeping a fair distance as to not be detected. As soon as the shuttle went off-world toward the dark moon, Lash guessed where this expedition was headed. Instead of blindly following them, he backtracked and headed for the second moon off Balthazar. During the train ride, he had the leisure to size and count the number and the worth of the mafia goons. As confident as he was in his own abilities, he felt he needed some backup.
Within the hour, he had raised a small posse of old friends, good warriors, trusted folks, deft with rifles. They rode together to the dark moon. When they got near, the four sharpshooters hung back and got into formation around the moon. Lash entered the moon’s atmosphere alone. He circled the moon at low altitude, searching for the company and Dani.
“There. I see them.” He pointed at the foot of a mountain to his skyhorse.
A thick mist covered his arrival from the south. He proceeded carefully to the edge of the fog before stepping down from his skyhorse. He checked his gunblasters and picked a third one off his saddle to place behind his back just in case. As soon as the fog cleared before him, he saw Dani. She was down, face on the ground, eating dust , a gunblaster pressed on the back of her head. Lash took a step back inside the fog and crouched. He did not want to be seen by the goons.
There was shouting, and Lash was near enough to make out most of the words.
“You pansy soft-cake dun, you lied to us. Tell me I can shoot her, Annia. I’ll muds your brains out! You hear me, you filthy scum gunslinger?”
Dani didn’t say a word. The woman called Annia spoke against the wind and Lash heard none of it, but soon the overly agitated goon was pushed away from Dani, almost carried away, whilst a man helped Dani up. He took a pair of handcuffs and instead of tying Dani at the wrists like one normally does with two-handed people, he forced her elbows together and tried to tie the cuffs around her biceps.
The man struggled, leaving Dani’s hand loose. The moment she grabbed the man’s gunblaster off his belt, Lash drew his guns and aimed them at the leader. She shot first. The man dropped dead, and she fell with him, using his body as cover.
Lash shot the woman named Annia in the back, then ran back into the mist. He shot three times in the air to guide the sharpshooters positioned in space around the moon, then he ran toward the left flank. The goons shot randomly at the fog, missing every mark.
Lash got to the edge of the fog and popped his head out. He was about thirty meters to the left of the company. None saw him. He shot two more goons before backtracking. He could not see Dani, but the goons shot at the mountain, so Lash assumed that was where she’d found shelter.
Lash found a new spot from the fog, staying clear of the random fires loosely aimed at his previous position, then he popped his head out again. This time, there were no easy shots. The goons had finally organized themselves and got behind cover. Two red blasts fell from the sky like thunderstrikes. Two more goons dead.
And now, the goons shot in all directions.
“It’s above us! Out there in space!” they shouted.
“No, they come from the fog. The fog!” another shouted.
Lash shot that last person right in the head. His mouth was still open.
Now, the thunderstrikes rained on the company of mafia muscles. It was a slaughter. The goons were down to half a dozen. Two were meters away, taking cover from the mountain and, doing so, plainly opening themselves to Lash. Full of confidence, enthralled by the heat of battle and the prospect of glory, Lash flung his dustcoat out, popped his proud chest covered in red metal, and ran to the men, all guns blazing. He hit them in the legs first and the goons screamed out in pain before he shot them in the chest and in the neck.
Four goons left.
One rushed out of cover and ran toward Lash, finger on the trigger. Thunderstrike. She got pulverized from a blast from above.
Three goons left.
A woman Lash hadn’t seen, shot him with a barrage of bullets, grazing his shoulder.
Four goons left, actually.
Lash took cover between the two dead goons. His blood spilled over a man missing half of his lower face. He shrugged him off, wincing in disgust. And then Dani Botswana came down from her mountain, the very same where the story had begun, shooting like a mad dog.
“What the hell is she doing?”
She was out there in the open, shooting at two goons to her right, with another one to her left. This one took the liberty to aim, Lash reacted. Too late. By the time he had taken his aim at the goon, the first blast was gone. It ripped Dani’s left calf out. She dropped to the floor, killing one goon to her right in her fall. Lash took care of the man who hit her. A flock of thunderstrikes disposed of the last remaining goon.
The coast was clear.
Lash’s shoulder bled, but he was fine. Dani screamed in pain, holding her left ankle with her last remaining hand.
“Are you alright?” Lash asked dumbly, running toward Dani whilst waiving in the air to signal the end of the battle for the sharpshooters.
Dani breathed hard and heavy, her face tense, beads of sweat dripping to her brows. “My leg. My Leg. My. My. My.” She hyperventilated. And now, she stared at Lash’s face with deep, angry eyes. Lash couldn’t tell if she recognised him, but he knew then he wouldn’t get his, “Thank you, you saved my life” from Dani just yet.
Lash would never get his thank you.
A moment later, Dani passed out. Lash rushed to hit her with a heal-spray. Then, he did what he could with what he had in his satchel to wrap up the leg around the missing calf.
Dani woke up a day later, under a ceiling she did not know. It was a medical bay aboard a ring station. The doc was a female, a native Zigmut. She stood by her side, working tongs and pliers under a sheet covering her left leg, out of Dani’s field of vision.
“Hey, yo, Doc. Do you speak English? Or any other human language? Not that I speak another language…”
“Please don’t move.” The doc held Dani’s leg tightly in place and now, the gunslinger felt a string of pain shooting from her leg nerves. Unconsciously, she wiped her forehead with the back of her left hand. The contact against her head was rugged and knocked her back. The moment she remembered she had lost her left hand forever, she discovered a huge white strap around her wrist. Her hand was back, although it had almost doubled in size and the fingers didn’t respond to any stimuli.
“Leave hand alone. Not ready.”
“What, not ready? And how did you get my hand back?”
“I’ll tell you how I got hand if you told where you lost leg flesh.”
Dani scanned the room before speaking. No one else was there. Her left hand was reattached to her wrist. She was alive. The goons were gone. She would be okay. She breathed deeply, as her old assertive self took the helm of the ship.
“You want to know how I lost half of my leg?” Dani said with an affected air of nonchalance. “I shot down an entire army of mafia hit-guys. All by myself.”
“A whole army?”
Dani nodded gravely. “All fifty of them.”
“Fifty?” The Zigmut doc was as gullible as she was good with tissue reparation. “Who are you?”
“Who am I?” Dani nodded with gravitas, looking all proud and defiant. “I am Dani Botswana. The best gunslinger in Larragon.”
Dani smirked as the pain in her leg ebbed and the stiffness in her hand loosened. She was truly the best. She knew it. She had taken down an entire army of Don Lino’s goons by herself. She did it. And with only one hand.
Oh, what a story to tell!
The End of Dani Botswana’s Adventures by Alex Valdiers
Looking for Part 1? Find it here.